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SC Lawmaker Drafts Bill To Protect MLK Day And Confederate Holiday

There's nothing like a snow day, until you have to make it up. Today thousands of kids will be in the classroom on a day they would otherwise have off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day. That's rankled many people, including a state lawmaker in Rock Hill who wants to make sure MLK day isn't used again as a make-up day. But he says his constituents have also asked him to see to it that Confederate Memorial Day not be used the same way. Rock Hill Schools is just one of several districts that has made people unhappy by sending kids to the classroom on Martin Luther King Day. The district's spokeswoman Elaine Baker expects she'll have more upset parents on hand when school is in session President's Day and Memorial Day. She says holidays weren't always used to pick up the slack, but budget cuts have made a difference in Rock Hill. "We usually in the past have used teacher days as make-up days, but this year with five of them being furlough days that limited between January and May only three holidays and spring break," says Baker. State Representative John King is one of those unhappy people. But while other people can sound-off to the district, he can draft legislation. He's working on a bill to make sure school districts don't use Martin Luther King Jr. Day as a snow make-up day. "While we should be maximizing the educational opportunity for each and every child in South Carolina, we should also be mindful of the heritage and struggle of the people in South Carolina," says King. As Representative King has heard from constituents, one day doesn't encapsulate that complete struggle. He's gotten several calls asking him to also make sure Confederate Memorial Day isn't used as a snow make-up day. That became a South Carolina state holiday in 2000 when the state legislature designated Martin Luther King Jr. Day as such. While King has never celebrated Confederate Memorial Day, he says he's willing to make that part of his bill. "I have people who strongly believe in the Confederate Memorial Day in my district, and even though my beliefs may be different, I took an oath of office to be fair and impartial in my decisions and I've received phone calls from both sides," says King. Banning snow make-up days on Confederate Memorial Day, which falls on May 10th, wouldn't change much since most South Carolina schools don't observe the holiday. Baker with Rock Hill Schools says she never heard of the holiday until she was asked to poll other districts a few years ago on how they recognize it. Baker found only two districts had the day off.